Tuesday, 18 October 2016

International census results coming in....31,000 and rising

Many of you will have been out surveying over recent days. At the end of last week Kerry Mackie and the expert Strangford count team (some say they train for this count by counting hailstones and that they know exactly how many Starlings are in the murmuration nr Slieve Croob) counted over 22,200 there. Two days later, with a different but no less challenging approach, Gudmundur, Finnur Logi and Kristinn H surveyed the bulk of the coastline of western Iceland (Faxafloí nd Breidafjördur), counting just over 7000 birds. Results are coming in from other areas and we'd be very keen to hear about any observations you have. Plse send counts (date/location and other details) to grahammcelwaine@btinternet.com

Thursday, 15 September 2016


We have always suspected that birds from our flyway population can make it as far south as Spain. Yesterday, for the first time, we received confirmation, when Vitor Xose Cabaleiro Barroso from the Andurina ringing group, reported that he had photographed 6ARR, along with its unringed mate and five juveniles!!
Vitor located the birds at Combarro, near Pontevedra, which is in Galicia in NW Spain (just above Portugal). He reports that in Galicia dark-bellied brent is a scarce winter bird, regular and irruptive, whilst pale-bellied brent is a rare bird, irruptive sometimes and mainly in autumn, with some wintering birds. His observation is only the eleventh September record.
6ARR was ringed at Erin's Isle GAA pitch in Finglas, Dublin on 06 March 2013, and had previously been observed in Kerry, Galway, Sligo and  Strangford Lough as well as Dublin.


Sunday, 11 September 2016


Despite the gale-force winds today, managed to get out to Strangford Lough, and spotted the first GPS collared bird (see earlier blog items) of the season, 27ON (Orange/Black(Noir)), at the Maltings. All the birds were struggling to stand up, so I was unable to observe much on its behaviour. Interestingly, also present was the leucistic brent which had been observed last winter, which has a pale back - looks a real oddity!
It was nice to note today that five out of the seventeen ringed birds read had broods of between three and five young trailing after them!!
A couple more reports have come in of first sightings - one of four birds at Killough Harbour yesterday, from Owen Hegarty, and another of seven today at the Gann Estuary, Pembrokeshire from Derek Grimwood.